Today is my birthday, twenty three years old.
This day last year Jesse and I were terribly homesick. We missed the New Zealand winter and spent the Canadian mid-summer day indoors with the curtains closed, a fireplace crackling away on YouTube and a rainy soundtrack playing. This time around we are much more accustomed to the Northern summer, the endless sunlight, the incessant heat and the monster mosquitoes. Still, we often find ourselves returning to that feeling of homesickness. It’s a strange thing – like we are constantly swapping between wanderlust (continue travel and adventures) and homesickness (head back to New Zealand to our families and friends).
It’s hard to forecast where we will be in six months. But we must continue to live the now, as we easily get caught up in planning for the future. My sweet, sweet husband once again threw me a make-something-from-scratch dinner party on Saturday night. It was beautiful to see so much effort and reminded us that we have created some fantastic friendships while living up here.
A couple of weeks ago I was interview by Radio National in Australia (you can hear the program here!) and last week I was featured in a small article in our local News North newspaper. The article was titled Where to find chocolate quinoa cake, New Zealand food blogger opens healthy hockey cafe in Norman Wells. It was nicely written, sure, and I did feel honoured to have such lovely things written about me. But there is so much more to the cafe than I was able to reflect in both the radio interview and the newspaper article. There is the behind-the-scenes support, the couple that have invested SO much, and had the passion to see the cafe set up in the first place, the town that provides the facilities free of charge, the youth Hockey Teams for whom this is supporting, the locals who donate fresh produce, appliances and grocery items to see the cafe’s success, the husband who buys milk and eggs from the store when I run out, the librarian who stocks the library with fantastic cookbooks to encourage the foodie inspiration, the customers who rave and offer constructive feedback on the dishes (those are my favourite!).
So to say thank you, I am sharing the said Chocolate Quinoa Cake. The recipe is from a book at our local library (which has the best food section!). This cake is a real hit. It is fudgy and moist, popping with quinoa seeds and carrying a rich, deep flavour. It is wheat free, offering a great alternative to those intolerant customers (there are a surprising number of allergies in our town). The great thing about this recipe is it can all be whizzed in a blender. I make a little extra quinoa when I make my Curried Apple Quinoa Salad (recipe to feature soon) which goes straight into the fridge until this cake beckons.
And just like last year, I quote Lora Brody: “Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty”. Enjoy!
Moist Chocolate Quinoa Cake
From Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood
Serves 8 – 10
The cake will puff up while cooking and sink on cooling. This is good – it means the centre is only just cooked and will remain soft and fudgy. Careful not to cook all the moisture out of it as it will be dry. It is perfect with natural yogurt (and a sprig of mint!). To lighten it up a little I imagine the sugar could easily be subbed for a natural sweetener (honey?) and the butter for coconut oil. I hope to try this out myself soon.
2/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ cups white or cane sugar
1 cup cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Cover, cook for 10 mins. Turn off heat and leave for another 10 mins. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease a 24cm cake pan and line with parchment paper.
In blender combine milk, eggs, vanilla. Add 2 cups quinoa and the melted butter and blend until smooth. Add sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the blender and blend until well mixed. Pour into pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.